MPs have urged telecommunications service providers to adopt more user-friendly data and voice plans.
According to MEPs, this aims to ensure that consumers of communication services obtain quality, reliable and affordable communication services in order to widen the penetration of information and communication technology (ICT) as a key driver. of economic growth.
While presiding over the House on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa instructed the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the national regulator of the communications sector, to engage these companies to provide exclusively unlimited data and voice plans that do not expire.
“This issue of expiring data and voice plans needs to be resolved. How do I tell me that the bundles have expired? The technology doesn’t have an expiration date. In many countries, just reactivate the bundle it’s like money in your account where the bank tells you that your account has become inactive, then it is reactivated and you can access your money,” Tayebwa said.
He also urged the UCC to order telecommunications service providers to scrap interconnection fees that have created unhealthy monopolistic tendencies, making it expensive for subscribers to make calls on other networks.
The discussion was based on the report of the National ICT and Policy Committee on the Kawempe Southern Division voter petition regarding unsatisfactory and unfair service delivery by telecommunication and television service providers in the country.
According to the report presented by the chairman of the committee, the Hon. Moses Magogo, Ugandans continue to pay dearly to access telecommunication services characterized by dropped calls, exorbitant tariffs on data plans, unrealistic consumption patterns and expiring internet plans, among others.
In its report, the committee recommended that the regulator should increase public awareness of the different data and voice plans to use and encourage telecommunications service providers to offer more user-friendly bundled subscriptions.
“UCC should also strengthen its engagements with telecommunications operators to develop and provide a wide range of packages that will encourage customers to access the Internet and subscribe to calls,” Magogo said.
Recently, telecom operators have offered a range of tariff packages that give consumers the option to choose between time-limited packages or unlimited packages that do not expire like MTN Freedom packages, Airtel’s Chillax packages and Smile Telecom’s Forever plans.
According to Napak District’s female MP, Hon. Faith Nakut, the lack of affordable internet accessibility has hampered the implementation of the government’s new curriculum in secondary schools.
“Secondary schools are implementing a curriculum that requires students to do research, but access to internet data is still limited. How do we deal with these children? The ICT ministry should negotiate lower internet rates for our children in schools, especially those in rural schools,” Nakut said.
Hon. Ibrahim Ssemujju (Municipality of Kira) said that it is high time the government stopped seeing internet access as a luxury, but rather as a right.
“Agro-industry, ICT and tourism have been identified by the government as key priorities, but the ICT sector has been left to private players, which is how we are able to sell almost all the equipment that UTL had to private players,” Ssemujju said.
Hon. Joyce Acan (people with disabilities) raised concerns about cyber security where unscrupulous people are swapping customers’ SIM cards and using them for fraudulent and heinous acts.
For Hon. Muhammad Nsereko (Central Kampala Division), this fraud in the mobile money sector is due to gaps in the cybersecurity space.
“Cloning of SIM cards is technically done from the devices. Every device has the International Mobile Equipment Identification (IMEI) number and if someone enters your IMEI and your IC card ID, they will clone your SIM card without having it; they become middle men and can intercept all your phone calls,” Nsereko said.
According to the committee’s report, the poor quality of telecommunications services is the result of internal and external factors such as the movement of callers from overserved areas to unserved areas and adverse socio-economic factors.
The report also attributed the poor quality of services in the country to vandalism and theft of communications infrastructure equipment, unreliable power supply, especially in rural areas where supply from the largest electricity distributor electricity (umeme) of the country is irregular.
For television service providers, the committee recommended that a billing policy be issued to regulate the payment structure to ensure that pay-TV subscribers only pay for the time and content they watch.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.
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